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Psychomania (1972), Reviewed

It is, without any doubt whatsoever, one of the oddest movies of the undead ever made. Its name is Psychomania. Filmed in the United Kingdom in 1972 and released in the following year, Psychomania is a British production starring Nicky Henson. It was directed by Don Sharp, who was responsible for such horror outings as Kiss of the Vampire and The Curse of the Fly.

The plot-line revolves around the actions of a biker gang that call themselves The Living Dead, and that have the name emblazoned prominently on the back of their black leather jackets.

Nicky Henson‘s character – Tom Latham – is an unlikable, spoiled, early-twenty-something brat, one whose main form of entertainment is inflicting both emotional and physical pain on others.

The Living Dead regularly take to the roads, creating havoc and mayhem for other drivers. But that’s nowhere near enough for Latham. He has something else on his mind: death and resurrection.

Latham’s mother, played by English actress, Beryl Reid, is an expert in the world of the occult, and as a result, Latham himself comes to know a great deal about the dark realm of the supernatural.

Not only that, Latham enjoys hanging out with his biker buddies at the Seven Witches, which is a small, Stonehenge-like circle of ancient standing stones that feature heavily in the movie.

Using the directions of an ancient supernatural ritual, Latham purposefully kills himself by driving his motorcycle off a highway bridge and into the waters below. He is killed instantly. He does not, however, stay that way. The leader of the Living Dead becomes, quite literally, one of the real living dead.

After being buried within the grounds of the Seven Witches (and atop his motorbike, no less!), Latham soon returns from the grave and his violent actions quickly become murderous, as he goes on a homicidal killing spree. It isn’t long at all before the rest of the gang follow suit and take their own lives, before returning from the grave as equally crazed killers.

The only one who is not enthused by the infernal situation is Latham’s girlfriend, Abby, who finally confides in the police what is going on. At first the police view the whole thing with a high degree of skepticism and doubt – until it’s all very much too late and the investigating officers also end up dead.

That’s right: not even the powerful world of law enforcement is a match for matters of an occult nature, and the lethal Living Dead continue to provoke death and mayhem.

This helmet was a very bad idea!

This helmet design was a very bad idea

Latham’s murderous spree takes on even greater proportions when, right in the heart of the Seven Witches, he tells Abby that she will either have to pledge herself to the gang, take her own life, and return as one of the undead, or the bikers will kill her – as in permanently and with no chance of reanimation.

Unknown to Latham, however, his mother – by now completely appalled at his actions – enlists the help of her butler, Shadwell (played by actor George Sanders, who committed suicide shortly after the filming of the movie was completed), to perform a complex rite that will bring the terrible activities of Latham and his gang to a sudden and irreversible halt.

As Abby looks on with fear, thinking that there will be no way out for her, the Living Dead are, one by one, turned to stone. Finally, they are indistinguishable from the original “seven witches” of their favorite hang-out. The reign of terror is finally over.

With its almost dream-like qualities that border upon the psychedelic, and its focus on old stone circles and ancient rituals, Don Sharp’s Psychomania has attained cult-like status amongst horror and undead aficionados.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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